Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker suffered second-degree burns and smoke inhalation as he helped rescue one of his next-door neighbors from a burning building Thursday.
“There was a time when I didn’t think we’d make it out of there,” Booker told media at a news conference Friday morning, describing the rescue as his “proverbial ‘come to Jesus’ moment.”
“I didn’t feel bravery; I felt terror,” he said, adding: “There was a moment I felt very religious.”
Booker returned home to his home in the Upper Clinton Hill neighborhood of Newark Thursday evening to find the building next door was on fire, the The Star-Ledger newspaper said.
“We got everybody out of the house, but their daughter’s screaming, ‘I’m upstairs!’” he told the paper.
He went in, followed by his security detail, and heard cries for help from upstairs. When he got to the second floor, he was engulfed in flames and smoke.
“I suddenly had the realization that I can’t find this woman,” Booker told The Star-Ledger newspaper. “I look behind me and see the flames and I think, ‘I’m not going to get out of here.’ Suddenly I was at peace with the fact that I was going to jump out the window.”
Then he heard the woman’s voice again from another bedroom.
“I just grabbed her and whipped her out of the bed,” Booker said.